Nootropic herbs have been in the eye of the storm for quite a while now. Biohackers, students, scientists, and people in high-pressure careers have been especially interested in them. This is simply because these herbs have beneficial properties. Their ability to boost mental skills and provide additional energy made them a valuable ally in the modern world.
The fact is that there are a lot of herbs with nootropic properties. This begs the question – what are the most famous nootropic herbs? Since our goal is to help you understand nootropics better, we’ve decided to answer this important question for you.
Let’s see which herbs have won the prestigious title that puts them in the “most famous nootropic herbs” category.
What are Nootropic Herbs?
Nootropic herbs is a category which includes both plants and fungi. We are aware that fungi are not herbs, but they have been considered as brain herbs for centuries now and they have been a part of traditional health practices.
Naturally, nootropic compounds are not equally distributed throughout a specific plant. This is why some plants have more nootropics compounds in their leaves and seeds, while others have them in stems, roots, and flowers.
While there are dozens of herbs that have positive effects on the brain, only a few of them are considered the most famous. Every botanical that we have listed here has a long history of medicinal use, especially for cognition. To support our claims, we have added modern studies and research.
Say hello to the king of Ayurvedic herbs ladies and gentlemen. Its name literally translates into “Smell of Horse”. This is because Ashwagandha roots have a quite distinctive horsey smell. It was traditionally used as an adaptogen – to help people cope with anxiety and stress.
Primarily, it is used to prevent anxiety. But its uses extend to helping people sleep better and combat stress-induced depression. Where it really shines is in enhancing physical performance and memory formation. Some scientists even began studying its effects on patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
When it comes to scientific evidence of its nootropic properties, we have to mention a study that revealed its positive effect on motivation.
In this study, scientists decided to examine how ashwagandha effects learning and memory formation. We are left with limited evidence that suggests it has these effects.
Traditionally, Bacopa Monnieri was used as a medicinal herb administered to people for cognitive enhancement and longevity. You may know this herb by its common name – water hyssop. This powerful nootropic herb packs powerful benefits for both young people and the elderly.
There are several studies that confirm Bacopa Monnieri’s positive effects on memory. In a double-blind study, healthy participants were administered with 300mg Bacopa Monnieri daily. The results indicate that Bacopa has statistically significant improvements in delayed recall, memory acquisition, and verbal learning.
The scientists have not stopped there. They have decided to confirm these effects while adding anxiety and depression to the formula. In a double-blind study, 300mg Bacopa was administered daily for 12 weeks. The results were amazing. At the end of the study, the participants had better attention and increased working memory. They also had less depression and anxiety.
To be absolutely sure of Bacopa’s effects on human memory, in a completely different study, scientists decided to keep the rate of learning a constant. In this study, Bacopa helped participants increase the retention of new information.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that has been used for centuries as a traditional Chinese medicine. But you will be able to find it as the key ingredient in some of the common food recipes. It also goes by the name Yamabushitake. It’s nootropic properties are tied to cognitive enhancement.
Its medicinal properties didn’t pass unnoticed by the scientific public. One of the first studies in this field examined its effect on cognitive decline. The research was done on rats and the results were statistically significant. Lion’s mane mushroom protected rats against cognitive decline.
Other studies followed. We would like to mention the human study with persons suffering from general cognitive decline, where the Lion’s Mane mushroom helped participants exhibit great cognitive improvements.
In another study, scientists decided to examine the effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom on concentration, anxiety, and depression. Participants were fed 2g of mushrooms daily over the next month. This study proves that Lion’s Mane significantly reduces depressive and anxiety symptoms and boosts concentration.
Gotu Kola, or Centella Asiatica, is another herb that has found its use in traditional medicine. It’s famous for its nootropic properties and the ability to enhance cognition. But it’s also famous for its ability to boost wound healing.
It appears that Gotu Kola has to be ingested regularly for several weeks for its cognitive enhancing properties to show. Its cognitive boosting power is similar to that of Bacopa Monnieri. Let’s see what science has to say about it.
Its positive effects on memory and learning are the consequence of Gotu Kola’s positive effect on dendritic arborization and regeneration. In fact, this study confirms that Gotu Kola leaf extract enhances dendritic arborization thus enabling the brain to form new synapses.
Its brain regenerative properties were examined in this study, which confirms that Gotu Kola accelerates nerve regeneration and increases neurite elongation.
While there are no human studies to confirm its positive effect on cognition, there are several significant ones done with rats. In this one, rats exhibited increase performance in a radial arm maze, which indicates that Gotu Kola enhances learning and memory.
Another study proves that Gotu Kola has cognition-enhancing properties, more precisely, it enhances learning ability and memory retention power.
Rhodiola Rosea is yet another powerful nootropic herb. It has become famous for its adaptogenic properties and is especially beneficial to people who are working or living under prolonged stress. While there are no studies that confirm the claims that Rhodiola can slow down cognitive decline, there are those which indicate that it improves cognitive functioning.
The consistency of the research results of studies examining the positive effects of Rhodiola on cognition is very high. The first study that we are going to mention here examined its effects on the capacity for mental work. The subjects were military cadets that were on regular night duties. Only after a 5-day long administration of Rhodiola extract, all study participants experienced an increased capacity for mental work.
There is also the study with healthy physicians working night shifts. They were supplemented with 170mg of Rhodiola for 2 weeks. Their fatigue levels were significantly decreased. But more importantly, all subjects exhibited improved performance in work-related tasks by an amazing 20%.
When compared to other nootropics, Rhodiola Rosea appears as the most potent supplement for fatigued and stressed people. A study where 200mg of Rhodiola extract was administered twice daily for a month produced statistically significant results. The subjects showed better work and social function. Their mood was improved and they experienced reduced fatigue.
Panax is the celebrity of the Ginseng family. People usually refer to it as the True Ginseng. There are many reasons that support this state of things. Panax Ginseng has dozens of benefits for humans. It improves mood, boosts immunity, and enhances cognition.
Its effects on cognition have been the subject of many studies. The consistency of results is very high, which places Panax Ginseng in the category of not only the most famous, but also the best nootropic herbs.
A double-blind study examined its effects on 30 participants. The doses of Panax were kept at 200mg daily. The administration period lasted for one month. During this period, the subjects’ social and cognition function was increased. Positive effects on the mood were also recorded. This study also suggests that there is attenuation of effects – the improvements stalled after 8 weeks.
Another study confirms these findings. The dose was higher in this case and it was kept at 400mg daily for 2 weeks. Scientists recorded improvements in cognition, well being, and calmness.
We kept the most famous nootropic herb for the end – Ginkgo Biloba. It’s commonly used as a supplement by people who need help with cognitive decline. Another common use is for cognitive enhancement.
Since this is the most famous nootropic herb, the number of studies doesn’t hit us as a surprise. It’s important to note that the research results of memory and cognitive decline studies are positive and consistent.
One of the more impressive studies included 156 participants. Supplementation of 240mg of Ginkgo Biloba daily for 6 months delivered statistically significant results. Ginkgo Biloba supplementation led to memory and cognitive improvements.
There are many aspects of human cognition. According to this research, Ginkgo Biloba has the most beneficial effects for memory and processing speed. Unfortunately, the subjects’ attention and task switching were unaffected by the Ginkgo Biloba supplementation.
These 7 nootropic herbs are the most famous ones. As you can see we’ve factored in these herbs’ uses, whether they are a part of traditional medicine, and scientific proof to bring you the ultimate list of the most famous nootropic herbs. We hope that you got all the information you were looking for.