The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Herbal Nootropics

By Ashley Peat Owner of Brainpower Nootropics® | 🕒10 min read
  1. What Are Nootropics?
  2. The Benefits of Nootropics
  3. Natural vs. Artificial Nootropics: What is the Difference?
  4. Things to Keep in Mind When Beginning with Nootropics
  5. Where to Start

What are Nootropics


Any natural or artificial substance which enhances brain functions such as memory, focus, and mood.


You’ve more than likely encountered a nootropic before, you just didn’t know it.


This is because the term nootropic is a blanket term which includes both artificial compounds and natural (herbal) substances, some you’ve likely heard of (or even consumed) before such as green tea and even caffeine.


To put it simply, a nootropic is any natural or artificial substance which enhances your brain functions.


The word nootropic was coined in 1972 by Romanian chemist Corneliu Giurgea.

Corneliu Guirgea

Giurgea laid out a set of guidelines to define what constitutes a nootropic, guidelines which are still followed today (albeit, loosely).


Giurgea stated a nootropic is a substance which:


  1. Enhances memory and learning ability
  2. Helps the brain function under difficult conditions
  3. Protects the brain from harmful chemical damage
  4. Improves neuronal firing mechanisms
  5. And lacks any sedative, stimulant, or toxic effects.


In other words, they’re substances which help your brain work better without any equivalent negative side effects. Think physical supplements like protein powder, but for your brain as opposed to your physical body.

The Benefits of Nootropics

Let’s go back to that physical supplement example for a moment.


In the same way that someone might use a physical supplement like a protein powder to build muscle and improve their physical body, an herbal nootropic supplement can be used to improve memory, focus, motivation, and many other functions, thereby enhancing their mental processes.

The benefits of nootropics are as broad and varied as the substances themselves. However, some of the most common and popular benefits include:


  • Improved memory
  • Greater focus
  • Increased sense of confidence
  • Clarity of mind
  • Increased motivation
  • And much more.

 Brain Artwork

Included below are summaries on five of the major benefits of nootropics:


Benefit 1: Focus, Attention, Clarity

camera lens, mental focus

More than any other desired benefit, an increase in focus, attention, and clarity of mind sits near the top of the list for most who desire to use a nootropic supplement of some kind.

It’s no surprise, either. With even a slight increase in focus or greater clarity of mind, your ability to do everything improves.

Many natural nootropics are effective at increasing focus, attention, and providing clarity of mind such as Guarana and green tea extract.

Benefit 2: Mood, Stress, Anxiety

Woman looking stressed

This one, on the other hand, may come as a surprise. The idea that a simple supplement could make you happier and more stress-free might sound out of this world, but it’s true.

Various natural nootropics are effective at improving mood, reducing stress, or helping manage anxiety and it’s symptoms such as ashwagandha, ginkgo biloba, and griffonia simplifica.

Benefit 3: Motivation, Energy, Mental Endurance

 Downhill Mountain Bike Adrenaline

In addition to improving focus, clarity, mood, and reducing the effects of stress and anxiety, many nootropics are also effective at increasing motivation and energy in various ways.

Motivation and energy are rather loose terms that don’t specify any certain brain function, but many natural nootropics are effective at positively altering functions associated with increases in motivation, energy, and improving mental endurance such as Ginseng and Guarana.

Benefit 4: Memory, Learning, Mental Turnover

Team working

With improving memory and learning ability being some of the more central benefits of nootropics, they’ve quickly become popular with college students trying to get through a difficult semester.

Several natural nootropics are effective at improving memory, learning ability, and reducing mental turnover such as Bacopa Monnieri and Green Coffee.

Benefit 5: Creativity

Woman doing creative blogging

Creativity, like motivation and energy, is a rather difficult concept to pinpoint when we’re talking about specific brain functions.

The reality is, super creativity becomes available to us by tackling various functions in an effective way. One of the primary steps to unlocking creativity is the release (or reduction) of stress and anxiety, for instance, which we covered in benefit #2.

Many natural nootropics are effective at improving the various functions related to creativity such as ashwagandha and green tea extract.


Keep in mind, this list isn’t exhaustive by any means. The above is simply a list of the six major overarching benefit groups of nootropics, based mostly on popularity.


Nootropics have been shown to positively affect numerous brain functions and processes, so we encourage you to explore some of the various nootropics listed in the next section to learn more about their amazing benefits.

Drug vs. Natural & Herbal Nootropics

For many, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear about nootropics is some artificial drug or supplement with potential side effects.


To be clear, these do exist. However, there are countless other naturally occurring substances (some you’ve likely heard of or even used) which are considered nootropics as well such as green tea, caffeine, and the popular memory booster Ginkgo Biloba.


So, what are the natural nootropics, what are the artificial ones, and what’s the difference?

The Difference Between Natural and Artificial Nootropics

Have you ever seen one of those crazy pharmaceutical commercials that sells you on great results only to fire off a list of what seems like exaggerated side-effects and risks that take up the whole last half of the commercial?


When it comes to artificial nootropics, there’s still much left to be done in the way of testing and research before these new substances can be verifiably safe, these substances are sold as "not for human consumption" or "research chemicals" and are made in unregulated labs in china, which can leave you taking something you have no idea if it's even what you expected.


However, there’s good news.


We here at Brainpower prefer the natural stuff any day. And it just so happens that natural nootropics like Bacopa, and L-Theanine, are just as powerful without offering comparable risks or side-effects. Plus natural nootropics are legally saleable and therefore are regulated under food law so you know what you are getting.

Natural Nootropics

Below is a list of some of the more common herbal nootropics. Each of the substances listed below is found naturally, such as L-Theanine and caffeine in green tea leaves.

  • Choline (Choline Phosphatidyl, Choline Bitartrate, Alpha GPC, and Citicoline)
  • DHA & EPA (Fish Oil)
  • L-Theanine (from Green Tea)
  • Ashwagandha
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Bacopa Monneiri
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (From the African plant Griffonia Simplicifolia)
  • Magnesium (Bisglycinate & Chelated forms)
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom
  • Guarana

Artificial Nootropics

As you might imagine, the list of artificial nootropics is huge, but here are several commons ones: 


We’d like to stress that if you’re considering drug nootropics, make sure to educate yourself first. The health implications are not well known over a long duration, as a lot of these substances are new and not trialled.


We strongly believe in taking care of your body and mind and therefore using natural nootropics to avoid these potential risks and side-effects.

Things to Keep in Mind When Beginning with Nootropics

When starting out with herbal supplements like nootropics, it’s important to take a few things into consideration.


It wasn’t until recently that we became aware of the fact that we could modify our cognitive functions through substances. While awareness of the effects of exercise and physical supplements have existed for some time, substances that could give us a mental edge are relatively new and there’s still much we have to learn from them.


Here are a few important tips and things to watch out for when navigating your exploration of nootropics:

1. Nootropics aren’t a replacement for a healthy lifestyle


One important thing to keep in mind is that nootropics aren’t a replacement for things such as physical exercise and adequate sleep.


Like exercise, nootropics can boost your energy. Similarly, in the same way that adequate sleep can help you maintain alertness and energy, so can nootropics.


However, nootropics are intended to complement a healthy lifestyle- not replace it. This includes things such as exercise and sunshine, adequate sleep, and a proper diet.


Ideally, nootropics should be combined with a healthy lifestyle to create optimal performance.

2. Nootropics won’t make you Superman

 Limitless NZT 48

It’s also important to understand that while the right Nootropics (based on your goals and personal biochemistry) will give you an edge, they won’t give you superpowers like NZT 48 gave Bradley Cooper in the 2011 film, Limitless.


Nootropics are intended to be a supplement, as the word implies. However, as a supplement, they can give you just the edge you need to help accomplish your high-importance tasks more effectively.

3. Results depend on your own personal biochemistry


While nootropics can offer some truly amazing benefits, it’s important to understand that the actual effects various supplements have on you depends on your own personal biochemistry.


This isn’t just important to keep in mind with regards to expectations, it’s important to keep in mind with regards to potential side-effects and risks, too.


Each nootropic is different, and each substance will have a different effect depending on the individual, so it’s important to be aware of potential side-effects that can arise when using a particular substance and any important safety information.


This is much more important to keep in mind when taking artificial nootropics, however, even natural substances can come with potential risks when taken incorrectly.

Where to Start 

With so many Nootropics, and so many varied benefits, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start.


With that in mind, we assembled a few tips to help get you started in the right direction:


Tip #1: Decide why you want to use nootropics


First, it’s important to understand why you’re considering using nootropics.


What is your purpose behind using nootropics? What goals are you trying to achieve?


  • Are you a student trying to get through a difficult semester?
  • A CEO attempting to unlock your maximum productivity potential? Or are you simply overwhelmed and trying to remember everything that goes on in a day?
  • A creative attempting to unlock the full creativity of your brain?
  • Something else?


Once you know what your goals are, you’ll have a clearer picture of what exactly you want nootropics to do for you. That’s where the next step comes in.


Tip #2: Decide what effects would be most useful for attaining said goal


Next, once you know why you want to use nootropics, you can figure out the exact effects that would be most useful for helping you achieve your goal.


If we go back to our examples:


  • As a student, you might desire greater focus and memory to help you study for and pass exams.
  • As a CEO, you might need something to help increase your motivation or help increase your confidence (or both).
  • As a creative, you’ll likely want something to help unlock your creativity, but you might also want something to help shake your introversion when it comes to communicating with clients.


Ask yourself this question to get you headed in the right direction:


What effects would be most useful for helping me achieve my primary goal(s)?


Tip #3: Natural or artificial?


Next, it’s important to decide whether you’d like to take a natural nootropic or artificial one (or multiple). Here’s a quick reference to help guide your decision-making process:


  • If you care about what you put into your body and are wary of pharmaceuticals with potential risks and side-effects, especially those which lack thorough research and testing, go natural.
  • If you’re more experimental, don’t care about potential side-effects or risks, and simply want slightly more convenience in where you’re able to acquire said benefit, you could consider artificial (although we don’t suggest it).
  • If you don’t care either way and simply want the most powerful effect for the said benefit, go natural (we still suggest natural as the effects match artificial Nootropics, but without the potential risks and side-effects).


Once you know where you fit in, you’ll have an even better idea of the exact kind of nootropic you want to try first.

Getting Started


Overall, we know it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re just starting out with nootropics. That’s why we’ve made things easy and created not only this extensive beginner’s guide, but an all-in-one and 100% natural nootropic supplement called Power Focus which has all of the best Natural Nootropic ingredients such as Bacopa, Alpha GPC and much more.

 PowerFocus® The #1 Herbal Nootropic

However, we know that even with this information, it can still be difficult to know where and how to start. That’s why we want you to know: we’re here to help.


Question? Concern? Is there something our beginner’s guide didn’t cover? Send us a message, we’d love to talk.


We’re passionate about natural nootropics and their ability to help give you the edge you need to perform at your best, so let us know how we can help and we’ll do everything we can.

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