ADAPTOGENS AND NOOTROPICS: SUPER HERBS THAT SUPPORT STRESS RESILIENCE AND COGNITION

Adaptogens are mostly herbs with multiple benefits, commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine. Generally, they support the body’s ability to deal with stress. The top 3 benefits of some of the most popular adaptogens according to examine.com are:

  • Ashwagandha: notable reduction of stress-related anxiety, stress and cortisol
  • Rhodiola Rosea: notable reduction of fatigue, increase in subjective well-being and improvement in cognition
  • Curcumin: notable increase in enzymatic antioxidants and reduction in depression and inflammation
  • Licorice root: notable decrease in oxidation of LDL, a minor decrease in canker sores (topical application) and increase in DHEA
  • Eleuthero root: minor decrease in blood glucose, cognitive decline and DNA damage
  • Holi Basil: minor increase in immunity, natural killer cells count and a minor decrease in anxiety

When it comes to stress, fatigue and burnout Ashwagandha and Rhodiola seem to be the best.

There are a couple of studies with Ashwagandha root extract with 5% withanolides. 300mg taken twice daily over the course of 8 weeks have produced the following impressive results:

  • 27.9% reduction in serum cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone)
  • 44% reduction in perceived stress scale (PSS) score
  • 71.6% reduction in depression anxiety stress scale (DASS) score 

Similarly, a number of studies demonstrate Rhodiola Rosea’s impressive benefits. 200mg taken twice daily over 4 to 12 weeks have:

  • Produced improvement in life-stress symptoms to a clinically relevant degree (study with 101 participants)
  • Significantly reduced exhaustion, anxiety, impairment of concentration, irritability and somatic symptoms (study with 118 participants suffering from burnout or comparable stress burdens) 

NOOTROPICS

Wikipedia defines nootropics as “drugs, supplements, and other substances, that may improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals”. The top 3 benefits of some popular nootropics, according to examine.com are: 

  • L Theanine: notable improvement in relaxation and attention and minor reduction in anxiety
  • Caffeine: notable increase in wakefulness, power output and anaerobic running capacity
  • Bacopa Monnieri: notable improvement in memory and a minor decrease in anxiety and depression
  • Gingko Biloba: notable reduction in cognitive decline, minor reduction in intermittent claudification and memory improvement
  • KAVA: notable reduction in anxiety and reaction time and improvement in subjective well-being
  • L Tyrosine: minor improvement in cognition and subjective well-being and minor reduction in stress 

L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green and black tea, is an excellent addition to any anti-stress regimen. It is considered that it affects serotonin and dopamine, influencing mood, sleep, emotions and cortisol. Its calming effect is typically felt within 30 minutes of taking doses between 50 and 100mg and may last up to 8 hours.