11 Best Natural Nootropics & Cognitive Enhancers

Updated on March 3, 2023
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)

Nootropics are substances that improve cognitive function.

Since it includes your memory, reaction time, motivation, and other important brain functions, you should consider the best natural nootropics.

Before finding these online or in your local drugstore, note what these top nootropics are and what benefits they contribute to the body.

Let’s find out more about the most effective nootropics you can easily find.

What are Natural Nootropics?

Natural nootropics serve a similar purpose, just like any other nootropic. However, true to their name, they are composed of organic compounds. Nootropics from herbs, plants, root extracts, and fungi are often used in ancient traditions such as Chinese medicine to enhance mental function.

In their purest forms, they do not bring any side effects to the user, unlike synthetic smart drugs, and are proven to improve brain health. Standardized high quality herbs without artificial ingredients and common allergens make up this type of nootropics.

The 11 Best Natural Nootropics

It is a belief that going natural means opting for a healthier option. Although it is not applicable on every occasion, rest assured that it will lead you to healthier results when it comes to nootropics.

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Some are even inside your body, like Acetyl L Carnitines and B Vitamins, specifically Vitamin B12, known for their effects on cognition.

According to scientific evidence and our own research, the 11 best natural nootropics are:

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is commonly found in coffee, cocoa, green tea, cola, and energy drinks, making it one of the most popular and most used nootropics. You can usually ingest this natural nootropic in the form of food and beverages. However, you can also take caffeine as a stand-alone supplement or in combination with other supplements as nootropic stacks.

This substance works to block the adenosine receptors to prevent their binding with neurotransmitter adenosine, which causes slower neural activity and sleepiness. This event also leads to faster neural activity. You can experience shorter reaction times and less tiredness with the intake of caffeine.

2. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba extracts are known to positively affect cognitive function as they are used in Chinese medicine for this purpose. Studies say that it helps improve memory, especially age related memory decline, and enhances the mental performance of older adults. Another benefit of Ginkgo Biloba is reduced stress-related high blood and stress hormone called cortisol.

It is believed that these benefits are caused by better and increased blood flow to the brain. That is why Gingko Biloba plays a role in improving artery health and minimizing the chance of stroke. However, more research is needed to understand its effects better.

3. Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri, also known as Brahmi, is an herb used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. It is a powerful herb that improves cognitive performance like memory focus and aids in a faster response. Such benefits are acquired because of the bacosides present in Bacopa Monnieri that boost brain signals in the hippocampus. It also protects your brain from possible oxidative stress and contains adaptogens that fight off free radicals.

It takes a long time before you will be able to feel the effects of this substance. Several months of use with a dosage of 300-600mg daily supports maximum benefits.

4. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea helps your body with managing mental fatigue. In countries such as Russia and Scandinavia, a review showed that this supplement serves as a treatment for anxiety because of its antidepressant and anti-fatigue qualities.

Small doses of this natural nootropic every day are ample when dealing with stress and fatigue before exams. Nonetheless, Rhodiola Rosea needs further research to determine its standard dose and how it produces its effects.

5. L-Theanine

A naturally occurring amino acid, L-Theanine, is commonly present in green tea, but you can take it as a nootropic supplement. It instigates mental clarity without causing drowsiness and increases mood-improving neurotransmitters that lift your spirit.

The L-Theanine substance has neuroprotective effects that generate and restore nerve cells, making it an excellent therapeutic supplement for high anxiety patients.

A dose of even just 50mg of L-Theanine increases alpha waves, which affects your creativity.

6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered the most important supplement for brain function, gaining its title as the “brain food”. These fatty acids are cognitive enhancers that improve mental function and blood flow. It affects cognition, such as memory loss, mental fatigue, creativity, and attention, considering it one of the best nootropics for memory.

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the overall brain health of healthy adults and even youngsters. They can be found in different kinds of food but are often not enough, so another source in nootropics is recommended.

7. Curcumin

An extract from turmeric, Curcumin, serves as an antioxidant and overall stimulant. It increases the blood flow to the brain, which gives you improved memory and concentration. Curcumin also stimulates brain cells’ production by producing serotonin, dopamine, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), providing an antidepressant effect, as studies have shown.

Curcumin, however, should be taken with the addition of nerve cells’ growth pipeline, phosphatidylserine, or the use of nanoparticles. It is because your body poorly absorbs Curcumin without help and proper measures.

8. Lion’s Mane Mushroom

One of the cognitive enhancers, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, can be ingested cooked, raw, mixed with tea, or any other form. It prevents the formation of amyloid-beta plaque in the brain that causes inflammation, brain cell death, and damage to patients with disease.

Two compounds found only in the Lion’s Mane - the hericenones and erinacines, stimulate nerve cells’ growth, heal, and protect them. Amycenone, another compound, helps in improving sleep, memory and mental function.

9. Ginseng

Ginseng consists of Panax ginseng (Asian or Korean) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). While both are called ginsengs, they have various benefits and possible side effects. Ginseng’s benefits include reduction of mental fatigue and blood sugar, and improvement of cognitive function.

Despite its significant effects on lessening cognitive decline, it is only hypothesized that the cause might be ginseng’s strong anti inflammatory qualities.

10. Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a stimulant extracted from the Chinese club moss plant to enhance memory, learning, and alertness. This compound has been used as a treatment for skin conditions for thousands of years in Southeast Asia. It helps healthy adults, middle school students, and aged adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Huperzine A is a booster that mainly works by increasing acetylcholine levels and forming new cells in the brain.

More research is needed to discover other potential benefits and long term side effects of Huperzine A.

11. Creatine

Bodybuilders usually use nootropic supplements such as Creatine to build more muscles. It is an amino acid that uses your body’s protein to support mental functions. When this compound enters the body, it binds with phosphate and acts as a fuel for the brain cells. More energy available for the cells improves short term memory and critical thinking.

You can find this substance in meat, fish, and poultry. Studies show that when vegetarians take Creatine, they experienced an increase in mental performance. As they can’t ingest this smart drug through natural means, they will have to take synthetic nootropics instead.

Natural Nootropics vs. Synthetic Nootropics

Both natural and synthetic nootropics increase blood circulation and provide essential nutrients. Natural stimulants keep the brain healthy by protecting it from inflammation occurrence and toxins.

natural nootropics vs synthetic nootropics

Natural nootropics also stimulate the release of multiple neurotransmitters, which contribute to brain boosting. However, just like any other natural way, it takes time to feel their benefits.

Synthetic nootropics are nootropics made of chemical ingredients. You can immediately feel the results after several minutes or hours of intake of these compounds.

Studies also found out that noopept, a synthetic nootropic, helps in clearing brain fog, treating anxiety, and recovering from brain injuries, but further research is needed to prove this claim. These smart drugs are effective, but be wary of prescription nootropics because they can pose serious problems like addiction and high blood pressure.

Natural Nootropics Side Effects

Natural nootropics are top brain supplements that improve cognition without harmful side effects. Mostly, the only possible way to experience unwanted effects is by taking larger than recommended doses.

natural nootropics side effects

Remember that true nootropics do not have harmful effects on users because they are not nootropics if they do.

Also, even if you lack the budget, you should not be bothered about how to make nootropics. It is because standardized high quality herbs are used when creating one. Effects can be different, and there might be adverse reactions if you try making these compounds without proper knowledge and equipment.


Natural nootropics significantly improve your cognitive function, and some of them can be easily found even in your daily foods. Going natural can help keep your brain function at its maximum while also keeping it healthy and slowing down its aging.

There are several of these best nootropics compounds that you can choose from to achieve your desired results. However, should you have any worries about taking certain nootropics, you should consult your doctor.