Adaptogens and Nootropics: Natural Mood and Brain Boosters

In today's fast-paced world, many people are turning to natural remedies to help improve their mood and cognitive function. Adaptogens and nootropics have gained popularity as natural mood and brain boosters, offering a host of benefits without the side effects often associated with pharmaceuticals. These natural substances work with the body to help manage stress, support mental clarity, and enhance overall well-being. From traditional herbs like ashwagandha and rhodiola to newer compounds like L-theanine, adaptogens and nootropics are becoming increasingly recognized for their ability to support a healthy mind and body. 

In short, adaptogens are herbs or plants believed to help the body adapt to stress and support energy levels by regulating cortisol levels. Nootropics are substances believed to enhance memory, focus, and creativity and boost overall cognitive function. Both are commonly used as supplements to support brain health and mental performance. 

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are natural substances, often plant-based, that have been used in traditional medicine, such as ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, for centuries. These powerful herbs and roots are known for their ability to help our bodies resist stress, both physical and mental. They work by balancing and regulating the body's response to stressors, which can help reduce stress and increase overall resilience. Some well-known adaptogens include ginseng, ashwagandha, and rhodiola. They are often used to support energy levels, improve focus, and enhance physical endurance. Adaptogens have gained popularity in modern times for their ability to help individuals cope with the demands of a fast-paced and stressful lifestyle. Many people use adaptogens as natural remedies to manage stress and enhance overall well-being. Many adaptogens can be consumed as supplements, teas, or added to meals, providing an easy and convenient way to incorporate adaptogens into a daily routine for improved resilience and vitality. 

Benefits of Adaptogens

Young woman doing breathing exercise

Adaptogens are a group of herbs and plants that are known for their ability to help the body resist stressors and adapt to physical, emotional, and environmental challenges.

  • Adaptogens are thought to regulate the production and activity of stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. By doing so, adaptogens promote a state of balance and promote overall well-being.
  • Studies have shown that adaptogens can have positive benefits including reducing fatigue, improving mental clarity, enhancing physical performance, and increasing resilience to stress.
  • Additionally, adaptogens have been found to support the immune system, improve sleep quality, and aid in recovery from illness.

However, each adaptogen has its own unique properties so it's important to evaluate the benefits of each individually to determine which suits you best. Overall, adaptogens can be a valuable tool for promoting resilience and vitality in the face of everyday stressors. 

Top Types of Adaptogens


Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

  • Ashwagandha is recognized for its ability to lower cortisol levels, a hormone that is released in response to stress. By reducing cortisol levels, ashwagandha can help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, elevate mood, and enhance overall well-being.
  • Additionally, ashwagandha has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help protect the body from oxidative stress and promote overall health.
  • It is also believed to support and improve cognitive function, boost energy levels, and enhance physical performance.

Overall, ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen with a wide range of potential health benefits. 

Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is a medicinal herb native to Southeast Asia and has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. The compounds in Holy Basil have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.

  • As an adaptogen, Holy Basil can help support the body's stress response, reduce anxiety, and promote overall well-being.
  • Holy Basil is also popular during times of stress or illness due to its potential immune-boosting effects.
  • Additionally, Holy Basil has been traditionally used to support respiratory health and as a digestive aid.

With its wide range of potential benefits, Holy Basil is valued as a holistic remedy for promoting overall health and wellness. 

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a medicinal herb that has been popular for centuries in traditional medicine. It is known for its adaptogenic properties, meaning it helps the body adapt to and resist various stressors, whether physical, chemical, or biological.

  • As an adaptogen, Rhodiola Rosea has several benefits, such as reducing fatigue and increasing mental clarity and focus
  • It is also believed to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Additionally, Rhodiola Rosea may support healthy immune function and help regulate cortisol levels, which can in turn improve the body's response to stress.

This plant has gained attention in recent years for its potential to improve overall well-being and resilience to stressors in modern life. 


L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves, especially in green tea. It is known for its ability to promote relaxation without causing drowsiness.

  • As an adaptogen, l-theanine helps the body adapt to stress by regulating the production of cortisol and by promoting a sense of calm and focus. This makes it a popular natural remedy for reducing anxiety, improving sleep quality, and enhancing cognitive function.
  • Results of some animal studies have shown L-theanine to support cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. More evidence and high-quality studies are needed to confirm this conclusion.
  • Additionally, it may have anti-inflammatory properties and support the immune system.

Overall, l-theanine's benefits as an adaptogen make it a valuable supplement for managing stress and promoting overall well-being. 


In recent years, various types of mushrooms such as lion's mane and reishi have gained popularity as adaptogens due to their numerous health benefits. Adaptogens are a class of herbs and mushrooms that help the body adapt to stress and promote overall well-being.

  • Lion's mane, for example, has been studied on animals for its potential to support cognitive function and neurological health, making it a natural option for managing mental stress and fatigue.
  • On the other hand, reishi mushrooms has gained attention for their immune-boosting properties and ability to support the body's response to stress.

While various mushrooms types have become increasingly popular, more human studies are needed to confirm the long-term benefits of these natural substances on mental health. 

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics are a class of drugs, supplements, or other substances that may help the body improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals. These substances are also known as "smart drugs" and are believed to work by targeting neurotransmitters, enzymes, and other chemicals in the brain to enhance mental performance. Some popular nootropics include citicoline and ginseng and various herbal extracts. Depending on the specific type of nootropic, the class of ingredients are thought to increase blood flow to the brain, facilitate the production of neurotransmitters, and protect the brain from damage. While some potential benefits of nootropics have been reported, such as improved focus and memory, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating these substances into one's routine. 

Benefits of Nootropics

Pharmaceutical supplement for mental fitness, mind health and nootropic drugs concept with human brain with headband, barbell, kettlebell and nootropics

Nootropics offer various benefits for cognitive function and overall mental performance.

  • These supplements are known to enhance focus, memory, and motivation, making them beneficial for individuals looking to improve productivity and mental clarity.
  • Nootropics have also been found to increase the brain's ability to function under duress, making them useful for reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Additionally, nootropics can improve mood and promote a sense of well-being, making them beneficial for individuals dealing with temporary mood disorders or depression.
  • Furthermore, nootropics can help combat adrenal fatigue by boosting energy levels and reducing feelings of exhaustion.

Overall, the use of nootropics can provide a variety of cognitive and mental health benefits, making them a popular choice for individuals seeking to optimize their brain function. 

Top Types of Nootropics


PQQ, or pyrroloquinoline quinone, is a compound that acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. As a nootropic, PQQ has shown promising benefits in enhancing cognitive function and supporting brain health.

  • It is believed to promote the growth of new mitochondria, the energy-producing powerhouses of cells, which can potentially improve overall brain function and resilience.
  • PQQ has also been studied for its potential neuroprotective effects, helping to defend against neurodegenerative diseases and age-related cognitive decline.
  • Additionally, PQQ has been found to support energy metabolism and overall vitality, making it a popular supplement for those seeking to boost cognitive performance and overall brain health. 


Phosphatidylserine is a naturally occurring phospholipid found in high concentrations in the brain. As a nootropic, it has been shown to improve cognitive function, memory, and attention.

  • Phosphatidylserine can help reduce cortisol levels, which can contribute to stress and anxiety, making it a beneficial supplement for those dealing with cognitive decline or age-related memory loss.
  • Additionally, it has been linked to improved athletic performance and recovery, making it a versatile and valuable nootropic for both mental and physical health. 

American Ginseng

American ginseng, also known as Panax quinquefolius, is an herb native to North America and is widely used for its health benefits. As a nootropic, American ginseng has been found to improve cognitive function, memory, and focus.

  • It contains compounds called ginsenosides, which have been shown to have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. These compounds may also enhance mood and reduce stress, making American ginseng a popular choice for managing stress-related cognitive decline.
  • Additionally, American ginseng has been studied in combination with ginkgo biloba for its potential to improve symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and support overall brain health. Further research is needed to determine this combination as an effective treatment. 

Overall, American ginseng is considered a valuable natural nootropic for enhancing mental performance and well-being. There are also other forms of ginseng such as asian ginseng or siberian ginseng that have their own set of benefits. It's important to explore the benefits of each type of ginseng to find which is best suited for you.


Citicoline is a naturally occurring compound found in the body as well as in some food sources. As a nootropic, citicoline is known for its cognitive-enhancing effects and can be suitable for those seeking to improve mental clarity, focus, and memory.

  • This compound has been shown to increase dopamine receptor densities, enhance communication between brain cells, and support the formation of phosphatidylcholine, a vital component of brain cell membranes.
  • Some studies suggest that citicoline may also have potential benefits for age-related cognitive decline.
  • Other studies have explored citicoline's benefits on cognitive impairments caused by stroke, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); though more evidence is needed to solidify citicoline as an effective treatment for these conditions. 

Overall, citicoline is recognized for its ability to promote overall brain health and functioning.

How are Adaptogens and Nootropics Different?

Adaptogens and nootropics are two types of supplements that are often used to support overall health and cognitive function. However, they have different functions and properties.

Adaptogens are a group of herbs and compounds that are known for their ability to help the body adapt to stress, whether it's physical, chemical, or biological. They work by modulating the body's stress response, helping to bring it back into balance. On the other hand, nootropics are substances that are used to enhance cognitive function, memory, and focus. They work by primarily targeting neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, to improve cognitive processes. While adaptogens focus on managing stress and promoting overall well-being, nootropics are more targeted towards enhancing mental performance and cognitive abilities.

Ultimately, both adaptogens and nootropics can be beneficial, depending on the individual's specific needs and goals. 

Can Nootropics and Adaptogens Be Used Together?

supplement pills and supplement powder on a wooden spoon

Yes, it's generally considered safe to use both nootropics and adaptogens together. Nootropics are known for their cognitive-enhancing properties, while adaptogens are revered for their ability to help the body adapt to stress. When used together, they can potentially provide a well-rounded approach to enhancing mental clarity, focus, and overall well-being.

However, it's important to be cautious as some ingredients in nootropics and adaptogens may interact with each other. For example, certain adaptogens may have stimulating effects, which could potentially interact with the stimulating effects of certain nootropic ingredients, leading to an overstimulated nervous system.

It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional or a knowledgeable practitioner before combining different supplements to ensure safety and efficacy.  

Wrapping Up

Using adaptogens and nootropics as natural supplements can be beneficial for overall well-being. Adaptogens such as ashwagandha and rhodiola have been shown to help the body better cope with stress and improve energy levels. Nootropics like PQQ and citicoline can enhance cognitive function and support brain health. When used in combination, these natural supplements can provide a holistic approach to improving mental and physical performance. As with any supplement, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before adding adaptogens and nootropics to your regimen, especially if you are taking medication or have any underlying health conditions. With proper guidance and usage, these natural supplements can be a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle.