by Sherley Alaba
The human brain is a powerful and complex organ that helps us survive and flourish. And just as we fuel our bodies, our brains need high quality fuel for better cognitive and creative functioning. After all, there’s some fantastic stuff going on inside your head 24/7!
While it is NOT true that we only use 10% of our brain, we often don't use our brain to our best advantage. But with the help of healthy lifestyle and supplementation, we can boost its creative functioning.
The Human Brain is Fantastic
A brain that performs optimally will be more imaginative, inspired, and creative. With the right nutrition we can help our minds unlock new levels of creative thinking - this is where nootropics come into play.
Nootropics are cognitive enhancers, i.e., they help improve brain function. These enhancers can boost our mental performance and help us reach higher levels of artistic and innovative thinking.
Natural nootropics have recently gained popularity in learning environments and at professional hubs. Nootropics have become popular because modern science has found them to be effective. So what is so enticing about nootropics? We are going to answer all your questions right here.
Nootropics, or smart drugs, are being used by Silicon Valley leaders and tech billionaires. Studies claim that up to 11% of the students in the U.S also will use nootropics. While there are both synthetic and natural nootropics, our focus will be on naturally occurring substances.
Natural nootropics are plant extracts composed of potent brain enhancing compounds. These plants have been in use for centuries, but science is beginning to understand how they work.
It was a Romanian psychologist and chemist - Dr. Corneliu Giurgea - who coined the term in 1972 after synthesizing the first modern nootropic. The term itself is a combination of Greek words “noos” (mind) and “trepein” (to bend). Dr. Corneliu Giurgea believed that our minds are malleable so we can shape them any way we like to improve memory, intelligence, and thinking.
Synthetic vs Natural Nootropics
Today synthetic nootropics are also available. Patients take these nootropics to improve focus, enhance memory, ease anxiety, and to elevate mood. These include substances like Modafinil, Aniracetam, Noopept, Adderall, and Oxiracetam.
While these synthetic nootropics come from a lab, organic/natural herbs are the source of natural nootropics.
Synthetic nootropics may have side effects like sleep disturbance, cardiac problems, and irritability. Their natural counterparts tend to be safer.
Let’s explore the properties of some of the best of these natural substances.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses ginkgo biloba as a tonic, energizer, and treatment for asthma. Extracted from the Ginkgo tree, this herb acts as a vasodilator in the body. Vasodilators improve blood circulation to our tissues and organs, especially the brain.
The properties of Ginkgo Biloba make it ideal for treating circulatory ailments like sexual dysfunctions and migraines. It improves blood circulation to the brain through the inhibition of Platelet Activating Factor.
More oxygenated blood flowing to your brain boosts your creative and analytical thinking and relieves anxiety. This herb is also anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.
A very ancient Ayurvedic herb, the Bacopa Monnieri plant is found in South Asia, India, and Southern USA. It has been used for the treatment of conditions like diarrhea, indigestion, asthma, and epilepsy. Bacopa Monnieri is also known for relaxation effects that come about thanks to the active ingredient Hersaponin.
This herb an excellent natural nootropic because it stimulates nerve cells and makes the synapses in the brain more responsive. It also stimulates the brain’s hippocampus region, an area crucial to cognitive functions.
L-theanine is extracted from tea leaves found in eastern Asia. One of the benefits of L-theanine is its relaxation properties that come without unwanted drowsiness.
This naturally occurring substance also helps our brain to ‘think creatively’ and function well when we are stressed or anxious.
The Rhodiola Rosea herb is derived from the plant of the same name. It is often used in Chinese medicine to improve brain function and general well-being. Rhodiola Rosea also optimizes mental processes by lessening our fatigue as proven by some studies.
A natural stimulant found in tea, coffee, and dark chocolate, we are all familiar with caffeine! While it can be taken as a supplement, there is no need as it can be easily obtained from these sources.
Caffeine stimulates the brain and the nervous system, making one feel less tired and more alert. Studies have also shown that caffeine improves memory, reaction time, energy levels and brain function.
An antioxidant, Resveratrol occurs in the skin of red and purple colored fruits (grapes, raspberries, and blueberries), red wine, peanuts, and chocolate.
Taking Resveratrol supplements can help slow down the deterioration of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls memory. Studies done on animals have shown that it enhances memory and brain processing. Thus it’s believed that this compound may slow down the age-related decline in brain function.
Creatine occurs naturally in the human body in the muscles and the brain. It is responsible for metabolizing energy, and is often used for sports performance. Dietary sources include meat, fish, and eggs.
According to an Australian study, Creatine supplementation can improve both working memory and intelligence.
There haven't been enough studies to be certain of safety issues associated with natural nootropics. Therefore, young people, whose brains are not fully developed, should use caution. Others should also be careful about dosage and duration.
If you would like to try nootropics, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner to create a healthful plan of use.
Creativity Contributes to Brain Health
Creativity itself is important to brain health, as we covered in a recent article, Here's How Creativity Helps Keep Our Brains Healthy. In addition to nootropics, meditation, regular exercise and good nutrition, our BrainSpeak programs can help increase your creativity: