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These 12 Nootropics Are the Real Smart Drugs

Lincoln Cannon Nootropics Product Ingredient

12 Real Smart Drugs

Nootropics are substances that enhance cognition and support healthy brain function. Sometimes people refer to them as "smart drugs" or the "limitless pill." They include various foods, nutraceuticals (supplements), and pharmaceuticals (drugs). Unfortunately none comes close to enabling any fiction-inspired capacities of superintelligence (yet), but some may make a practical difference for many people.

I’ve used several nootropics for years. And I’m exploring ways to incorporate others into my diet, if they’re applicable to my personal situation and meet a few general criteria:

First, I look for nootropics supported by multiple studies on humans – not just anecdotal evidence, one study, or studies on non-human animals. Although I've nothing against the health benefits of placebo, I prefer knowing that something more than only placebo is at work.

Second, I look for nootropics with the highest ratios of efficacy to expense. Given innumerable options and a limited budget, I want to do more than just empty my wallet.

Third, I look for nootropics that are legal and generally safe. If it'll put me in a hospital or a prison, it’s not worth it.

Based on those criteria, I’ve compiled a list of top tier natural nootropics. These are, to the best of my knowledge, the most well-researched and effective nootropics available in the United States without a prescription. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Please consult a physician before and during use of these and other nootropics.

1) Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

["Berry of the Withania somnifera plant" by Wowbobwow12 under CC BY-SA 3.0 / cropped]

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania Somnifera, is a plant in the nightshade family and cultivated in Asia. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to anxiety, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

Supplementation with Ashwagandha may also provide a notable decrease to stress; a subtle decrease to depression, and fatigue; and a subtle increase to motivation, social functioning, and subjective well-being. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Ashwagandha article on Examine.com for more studies and details.

2) Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri is a perennial creeping herb native to wetlands worldwide. Supplementation may provide a notable increase to memory, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

Supplementation with Bacopa Monnieri may also provide a subtle decrease to anxiety, depression, and forgetting. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Bacopa Monnieri article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Also check out my article on Bacopa supplementation. Bacopa is an ingredient in Thrivous Clarity.

3) Creatine

Creatine

Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in vertebrates. It is best known for benefits related to strength training. In addition to those benefits, supplementation may provide a notable decrease to fatigueaccording to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

Supplementation with Creatine may also provide a notable decrease to depression; a subtle increase to fatigue resistance, subjective well-being, and cognition; and a subtle decrease to symptoms of sleep deprivation. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Creatine article at Examine.com for more studies and details.

4) Feverfew

Feverfew

Feverfew is a perennial herb that was native to Eurasia and has spread around the world. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to migraine, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

See the Feverfew article at Examine.com for more studies and details.

5) Fish Oil

Fish

Fish Oil, as the name suggests, is an oil that accumulates in the tissues of some fish species. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to depression, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

Supplementation with Fish Oil may also provide a subtle decrease to aggression, anxiety, cognitive decline, reaction time, and stress; and a subtle increase to cerebral blood flow, cerebral oxygenation, memory, processing accuracy, and subjective well-being. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Fish Oil article at Examine.com for more studies and details.

6) Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a tree native to China. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to cognitive declineaccording to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

Supplementation with Ginkgo Biloba may also provide a subtle increase to memory, cognition, sleep quality, subjective well-being, calmness, cerebral blood flow, processing accuracy, processing speed, and reaction time; and a subtle decrease to anxiety, numerical memory, and stress. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Ginkgo Biloba article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Also check out my article on Ginkgo supplementation. Ginkgo is an ingredient in Thrivous Alpha.

7) Inositol

Inositol

Inositol is a sugar alcohol chemical compound that exists in various forms, the most prominent of which is Myo-Inositol, which occurs widely in nature. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to anxiety and panic attacksaccording to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

Supplementation with Inositol may also provide a subtle decrease to depression. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Inositol article at Examine.com for more studies and details.

8) L-Theanine

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid analogue found primarily in some plant and fungal species. Supplementation may provide a notable increase to relaxation without sedation, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

See the L-Theanine article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Also check out my article on combined Caffeine and L-Theanine supplementation. L-Theanine is an ingredient in Thrivous Serenity and Thrivous Surge.

9) Melatonin

Melatonin

Melatonin is a substance found in animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to insomnia and symptoms of jet lag, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

Supplementation with Melatonin may also provide a subtle increase to sleep quality, and memory; and a minor decrease to alertness. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Melatonin article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Also check out my article on Melatonin supplementation. Melatonin is an ingredient in Thrivous Serenity.

10) Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a perennial flowering plant that grows on sea cliffs and mountains in cold regions of the world. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to fatigue, and a notable increase to cognition and subjective well-being, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

    Supplementation with Rhodiola Rosea may also provide a notable decrease to depression; a subtle increase to processing accuracy; and a subtle decrease to rate of perceived exertion, and stress. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Rhodiola Rosea article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Also check out my article on Rhodiola supplementation. Rhodiola is an ingredient in Thrivous Clarity.

    11) Vitamin B2

    Vitamin B2

    Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin, is found in foods like milk, leafy vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, and almonds. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to migraine, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

    See the Vitamin B2 article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Also check out my article on Vitamin B supplementation. Vitamin B2 is an ingredient in Thrivous Clarity.

    12) Zinc

    Zinc

    ["30 grams zinc, 3 cm in diameter" by Jurii under CC BY 3.0 / cropped]

    Zinc is an essential dietary mineral found in food like beans, nuts, and whole grains. Supplementation may provide notable support for mood, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

    Supplementation with Zinc may also provide a subtle decrease to aggression and reaction time; and a subtle increase to cognition and subjective well-being. Evidence for these effects may not be as reliable. See the Zinc article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Zinc is an ingredient in Thrivous Clarity.

    13) Acetyl-L-Carnitine

    [Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a new addition to this list since the time of original writing.]

    Acetyl-L-Carnitine

    Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative found in mammals and other eukaryotes. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to ammonia to support brain detoxification, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:

    Supplementation with Acetyl-L-Carnitine may also provide a subtle decrease to fatigue. Evidence for this effect may not be as reliable. See the L-Carnitine article at Examine.com for more studies and details. Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an ingredient in Thrivous Alpha.

    Thrivous

    Because it can be unnecessarily tedious and expensive to find, buy, measure, and swallow these nootropics separately, Thrivous is combining some of them into convenient and cost-effective products with evidence-based dosages reflecting the results of the studies shared above. It's part of our mission to help you access technology with the greatest potential to improve your brain and body. If you'd like to be notified as these products become available, please sign up for our newsletter.

    Thrivous currently offers several nootropic products. We formulated Clarity, the daily nootropic, to improve focus, memory, and mood. We formulated Serenity, the nightly nootropic, to promote calm, sleep, and next-day focus. We formulated Surge, the acute nootropic, for occasional use to increase energy and focus. And we formulated Alpha, the extended daily nootropic, to support healthy brain aging. Talk to your doctor about starting Thrivous nootropics today!

    Buy Thrivous Clarity, the Daily Nootropic



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