Best Natural Mood Enhancing Supplements and Biohacks
Written by Erik Levi, FNTP — Updated on July 24, 2021

OVERVIEW:

  • The most common factors that affect your mood are stress, inflammation, and hormonal changes.

  • There are many nootropics and supplements that can effectively boost mood.

  • Avoiding toxic foods and lifestyle habits is necessary to boost mood.

  • There are many biohacking devices that can track and boost important mood-related metrics.

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Many factors can affect a person’s mood.

Diet, lifestyle, environmental toxicity, relationships, to name a few. 

The ability to manage stress is the most significant player when it comes to mood. Being resilient to mental and physical stress increases your mood and prevents you from succumbing to disease and mental disorders.1Gang Wu, Adriana Feder, Hagit Cohen, Joanna J. Kim, Solara Calderon, Dennis S. Charney, and Aleksander A. Mathé, Understanding resilience, Front Behav Neurosci. 2013 Studies show that resilience stems from the neural, molecular, and hormonal makeup of a person.2Scott J Russo , James W Murrough, Ming-Hu Han, Dennis S Charney, Eric J Nestler, Neurobiology of resilience, Nat Neurosci. 2012 3Charlène Faye, Josephine C. McGowan,Christine A. Denny, and Denis J. David, Neurobiological Mechanisms of Stress Resilience and Implications for the Aged Population, Curr Neuropharmacol. 2018

Optimizing your mood comes down to the interplay of neurotransmitters in your brain. Balanced levels of dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and endorphins all play a role in maintaining a positive attitude, happiness, and a resilient mind.4Fushun Wang,Jiongjiong Yang, Fang Pan, Roger C. Ho, and Jason H. Huang, Editorial: Neurotransmitters and Emotions, Front Psychol. 2020

Ultimately, this is where nootropics come in and promote better brain management, 5Ruchi Malik, Abhijeet Sangwan, Ruchika Saihgal, Dharam Paul Jindal, Poonam Piplani, Towards better brain management: nootropics, Curr Med Chem. 2007 neurotransmission, 6A Pavlík, O Benesová, N Dlohozková, Effects of nootropic drugs on brain cholinergic and dopaminergic transmission, Act Nerv Super (Praha). 1987 brain function,7Satoru Kobayashi , Machiko Iwamoto, Kazuo Kon, Hatsue Waki, Susumu Ando, Yasukazu Tanaka, Acetyl-L-carnitine improves aged brain function, Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2010 and mood.8David A Camfield , Con Stough, Jonathon Farrimond, Andrew B Scholey, Acute effects of tea constituents L-theanine, caffeine, and epigallocatechin gallate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Nutr Rev. 2014

Diet patterns and lifestyle also affect mood. Many studies reveal a strong link between a healthy diet and less depressive symptoms.9Corinna Rahe , Michael Unrath, Klaus Berger, Dietary patterns and the risk of depression in adults: a systematic review of observational studies, Eur J Nutr. 2014 10Anu Ruusunen , Soili M Lehto , Jaakko Mursu , Tommi Tolmunen , Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen , Jussi Kauhanen , Sari Voutilainen, Dietary patterns are associated with the prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms and the risk of getting a hospital discharge diagnosis of depression in middle-aged or older Finnish men, J Affect Disord. 2014

Other lifestyle factors that affect mood are exercise,11Ashish Sharma, M.D., Vishal Madaan, M.D., and Frederick D. Petty, M.D., Ph.D., Exercise for Mental Health, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006 sleep quality, 12Sofia Triantafillou, PhD, Sohrab Saeb, PhD, Emily G Lattie, PhD, David C Mohr, PhD, and Konrad Paul Kording, PhD, Relationship Between Sleep Quality and Mood: Ecological Momentary Assessment Study, JMIR Ment Health. 2019 and addiction.13Juliane M. von der Heiden, Beate Braun,2 Kai W. Müller, and Boris Egloff, The Association Between Video Gaming and Psychological Functioning, Front Psychol. 2019 14Susan B. Quello, B.A., B.S, Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., and Susan C. Sonne, Pharm.D., B.C.P.P., Mood Disorders and Substance Use Disorder: A Complex Comorbidity, Sci Pract Perspect. 2005

This article will discuss the different nootropics, biohacks, diet, and lifestyle modifications that help raise your mood. 

Supplements/Nootropics 

Several factors affect mood disorders, but the most common are stress, inflammation, and hormonal changes.15Neil A. Harrison, Lena Brydon, Cicely Walker, Marcus A. Gray, Andrew Steptoe, and Hugo D. Critchley, Inflammation Causes Mood Changes Through Alterations in Subgenual Cingulate Activity and Mesolimbic Connectivity, Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Addressing inflammation solves most of the mood disorder symptoms experienced by the person.16Brett D. M. Jones, Zafiris J. Daskalakis, Andre F. Carvalho, Rebecca Strawbridge, Allan H. Young, Benoit H. Mulsant, and M. Ishrat Husain, Inflammation as a treatment target in mood disorders: review, BJPsych Open. 2020 17Jennifer C. Felger, Imaging the Role of Inflammation in Mood and Anxiety-related Disorders, Curr Neuropharmacol. 2018

Here are some supplements and nootropics that can help address mood disorders.

Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro Best Nootropic

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropic stack composed of 11 potent nootropic ingredients that work together to improve dopamine levels, lower stress, and prevent depressive symptoms. 

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is a dopamine precursor, which means it converts to dopamine in your brain. 

There are also specific ingredients that lower anxiety, like Bacopa monnieri 18S K Bhattacharya , S Ghosal, Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study, Phytomedicine. 1998 and L-theanine.19Shinsuke Hidese, Shintaro Ogawa, Miho Ota,1 Ikki Ishida, Zenta Yasukawa, Makoto Ozeki, and Hiroshi Kunugi, Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Nutrients. 2019 There’s also Pine bark extract, which enhances blood flow to the brain and contains anti-inflammatory properties that help ease depressive symptoms.

Learn more about how Mind Lab Pro can help improve your mood and overall health. 

Testo Lab Pro

Studies show that men with lower testosterone levels are more prone to depression and depressive symptoms.20Stephanie Rodgers, Martin grosse Holtforth, Michael P. Hengartner, Mario Müller, Aleksandra A. Aleksandrowicz, Wulf Rössler, and Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross, Serum Testosterone Levels and Symptom-Based Depression Subtypes in Men, Front Psychiatry. 2015 21Matthew Spitzer, MD, Shehzad Basaria, MD, Thomas G. Travison, PhD, Maithili N. Davda, MPH, Leonard DeRogatis, PhD, and Shalender Bhasin, MD, The Effect of Testosterone on Mood and Well-being in Men with Erectile Dysfunction in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Andrology. 2014

TestoLab Pro‘s potent formula increases testosterone to protect the brain from neural, cellular, and molecular changes that affect mental health.22Jenna McHenry , Nicole Carrier , Elaine Hull , Mohamed Kabbaj , Sex differences in anxiety and depression: role of testosterone, Front Neuroendocrinol. 2014

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind Nootropic Stack

Qualia Mind is another nootropic stack that improves mood through its active ingredients. One of its components, theobromine, is an alkaloid from cacao and is found in chocolate. It has the same effects as caffeine and effectively improves mood.23Matthew J. Baggott, Emma Childs, Amy B. Hart, Eveline de Bruin, Abraham A. Palmer, Joy E. Wilkinson, and Harriet de Wit, Psychopharmacology of theobromine in healthy volunteers, Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014

Other ingredients that help improve mood include Mucuna pruriens and uridine monophosphate. 

There is also the potent dopamine precursor tandem of N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine and DL-Phenylalanine.

Check out my full review of Qualia Mind to learn more. 

L-Tyrosine (NALT)

L-tyrosine is an amino acid synthesized from phenylalanine, another amino acid. It is important for improving memory and thinking skills. It also helps manage substance abuse.

Dopamine and norepinephrine are two important neurotransmitters. Low levels of these neurotransmitters result in behavioral changes, depressive moods, and performance impairments.24L E Banderet , H R Lieberman
, Treatment with tyrosine, a neurotransmitter precursor, reduces environmental stress in humans, Brain Res Bull. 1989
25Mirjam Bloemendaal, Monja Isabel Froböse, Joost Wegman, Bram Bastiaan Zandbelt, Ondine van de Rest, Roshan Cools, and Esther Aarts, Neuro-Cognitive Effects of Acute Tyrosine Administration on Reactive and Proactive Response Inhibition in Healthy Older Adults, eNeuro. 2018

L-tyrosine also restores noradrenaline in the cerebrum, resulting in improved behavior of the subjects.26Abdelrahman Alabsi, Adel Charbel Khoudary, and Wassim Abdelwahedb, The Antidepressant Effect of L-Tyrosine-Loaded Nanoparticles: Behavioral Aspects, Ann Neurosci. 2016 Another study showed that low levels of L-tyrosine in the diet improves cognitive function and mood.27David O. Kennedy, Emma L. Wightman, Joanne Forster, Julie Khan, Crystal F. Haskell-Ramsay, and Philippa A. Jackson, Cognitive and Mood Effects of a Nutrient Enriched Breakfast Bar in Healthy Adults: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Groups Study, Nutrients. 2017

Mucuna Pruriens

Mucuna has a fourfold effect on mood. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that lowers oxidative stress.28Etienne C Hirsch , Stéphane Hunot, Neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s disease: a target for neuroprotection?, Lancet Neurol. 2009 The relationship between inflammation and mood disorders is too strong to ignore. 

As a natural form of L-Dopa, mucuna has specific dopaminergic actions that improve depressive symptoms.29Ayu. 2014, Dopamine mediated antidepressant effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds in various experimental models of depression, Digvijay G. Rana and Varsha J. Galani

Dopamine in Mucuna also interacts with serotonin, and the imbalance between these neurotransmitters results in changes in behavior, especially impulsive aggression.30Dongju Seo and Christopher J. Patrick, Role of Serotonin and Dopamine System Interactions in the Neurobiology of Impulsive Aggression and its Comorbidity with other Clinical Disorders, Aggress Violent Behav. 2009

Mucuna seed extracts also enhance the growth of new neurons and protect existing neurons from oxidative stress.31Joy Ganem Longhi, Elisa Perez, Jair José de Lima, Lys Mary Bileski Cândido, In vitro evaluation of Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. antioxidant activity, Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. 2011

5-HTP

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Known by its official name L-5-hydroxytryptophan, 5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter. It can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier, stimulating the central nervous system to produce serotonin. Enough serotonin helps regulate sleep, modulate anxiety symptoms, influences positive behavioral changes, and manages appetite, and pain sensation.32T C Birdsall , 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor, Altern Med Rev. 1998

The presence of monoamine transporters like tryptophan found in 5-HTP is essential for natural neurotransmitter synthesis.33Marty Hinz,1 Alvin Stein,2 and Thomas Uncini, 5-HTP efficacy and contraindications, Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2012. Proceed with caution with 5-HTP as it is possible to overdo it and experience side effects like serotonin syndrome. – 34William J Scotton, Lisa J Hill, Adrian C Williams, and Nicholas M Barnes, Serotonin Syndrome: Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, Management, and Potential Future Directions, Int J Tryptophan Res. 2019

Taurine

Taurine is one of the most important and abundant amino acids in the brain and many parts of the body. It has antioxidant effects and effectively treats the central nervous system’s diseases, on top of its other therapeutic effects.35Stephen Schaffer and Ha Won Kim, Effects and Mechanisms of Taurine as a Therapeutic Agent, Biomol Ther (Seoul). 2018

It also activates GABA, which in turn increases focus and lowers depressive symptoms and anxiety.36Fan Jia, Minerva Yue, Dev Chandra, Angelo Keramidas, Peter A. Goldstein, Gregg E. Homanics and Neil L. Harrison, Taurine Is a Potent Activator of Extrasynaptic GABAA Receptors in the Thalamus, Journal of Neuroscience 2. 2008 Aside from that, taurine also increases dopamine concentrations in the striatum 37 Md.JakariaaShofiulAzamaMd. EzazulHaqueaSong-HeeJoaMd. SahabUddinbIn-SuKimacDong-KugChoi, Taurine and its analogs in neurological disorders: Focus on therapeutic potential and molecular mechanisms, Redox Biology. 2019 and protects the brain neurons from inflammation due to oxidative stress.38Author(s), Neuroprotective Effect of Taurine against Oxidative Stress-Induced Damages in Neuronal Cells, The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology. 2010

Acetyl L-Carnitine

Acetyl L-carnitine, also known as L-carnitine or ALCAR, is another amino acid essential in regulating glutamate release, an excitatory neurotransmitter.39Carla Nasca, Dionysios Xenos, Ylenia Barone, Alessandra Caruso, Sergio Scaccianoce, Francesco Matrisciano, Giuseppe Battaglia, Aleksander A. Mathé, Anna Pittaluga, Luana Lionetto, Maurizio Simmaco, and Ferdinando Nicoletti, L-acetylcarnitine causes rapid antidepressant effects through the epigenetic induction of mGlu2 receptors, PNAS M. 2013

Studies also show a strong relationship between L-carnitine and changes in the dopaminergic system.40H Sershen , L G Harsing Jr, M Banay-Schwartz, A Hashim, M T Ramacci, A Lajtha, Effect of acetyl-L-carnitine on the dopaminergic system in aging brain, J Neurosci Res. 1991

Low levels of L-carnitine results in major depressive disorder.41Robert M. Post, Myriad of implications of acetyl-l-carnitine deficits in depression, Proc Natl Acad Sci . 2018

L-carnitine helps bring down inflammation and oxidative stress, bringing down anxiety symptoms as well.42Joseph Levine , Zeev Kaplan, Jay W Pettegrew, Richard J McClure, Samuel Gershon, Igor Buriakovsky, Hagit Cohen, Effect of intraperitoneal acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) on anxiety-like behaviours in rats, Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2005 It is important to note that inflammation affects dopamine production and bioavailability, making it imperative to treat inflammation before trying to improve dopamine levels.43Jennifer C Felger , Michael T Treadway , Inflammation Effects on Motivation and Motor Activity: Role of Dopamine, Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017

L-carnitine also protects the taurine levels in the brain so taurine can do its job. 

Uridine Monophosphate

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Uridine Monophosphate is a nutritional supplement indicated as a treatment for mental disorders presenting depressive symptoms.44Douglas G. Kondo, M.D.,corresponding author,Young-Hoon Sung, M.D., Tracy L. Hellem, B.S., Kristen K. Delmastro, B.S., Eun-Kee Jeong, Ph.D., Namkug Kim, Ph.D., Xianfeng Shi, Ph.D.,1 and Perry F. Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, Open-Label Uridine for Treatment of Depressed Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder, J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011 Its antidepressant effects enhance the effects of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and choline in synapse formation.45Richard J. Wurtman, A Nutrient Combination that Can Affect Synapse Formation, Nutrients. 2014

Further, it improves phospholipid metabolism in the brain.46Nivedita Agarwal, Young-Hoon Sung,a J Eric Jensen,c Grace daCunha,c David Harper, David Olson, and Perry F Renshawa, Short-term administration of uridine increases brain membrane phospholipids precursors in healthy adults: a 31-phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy study at 4T, Bipolar Disord. 2011 Optimal phospholipids enhance brain function, coping with stress, and fighting depression.47Daniela Küllenberg, Lenka A Taylor, Michael Schneider, and Ulrich Massing, Health effects of dietary phospholipids, Lipids Health Dis. 2012

Lithium Orotate

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Lithium orotate is a nutraceutical known for its beneficial effects on behavior and mood.48Mala Nath; Vikas Gupta., Mood Stabilizers, StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Studies show that taking lithium orotate reduces depressive, hypomanic, and mixed affective symptoms. It also stimulates feelings of calmness and lessens impulsiveness.49Peter Devadason, Is there a role for lithium orotate in psychiatry?,Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 2018

Many experts believe that lithium is an underutilized treatment in the US.

It demonstrates many benefits for treating mania and depression, reducing suicidal tendencies while protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.50Robert M Post, The New News about Lithium: An Underutilized Treatment in the United States, Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a traditional Eastern European medicinal plant known for its many effects. It stimulates the central nervous system, enhances cognitive functions, lessens depressive symptoms, and eliminates fatigue.51Farhath Khanum Amarinder Singh Bawa Brahm Singh, Rhodiola rosea: A Versatile Adaptogen, Wiley Online Library. 2006

As an adaptogenic herb, Rhodiola induces positive effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to protect against stress by lowering stress hormones in the body.52Yonghong Li, Victor Pham, Michelle Bui, Liankun Song, Chunli Wu, Arman Walia, Edward Uchio, Feng Smith-Liu, and Xiaolin Zi, Rhodiola rosea L.: an herb with anti-stress, anti-aging, and immunostimulating properties for cancer chemoprevention, Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2018 Rhodiola extracts also inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of Rhodiola Rosea on mental fatigue and depression highlights its ability to improve mental alertness and lessen depressive symptoms.53Ewa Jówko, Jerzy Sadowski, Barbara Długołęcka, Dariusz Gierczuk, Benedykt Opaszowski,c and Igor Cieśliński, Effects of Rhodiola rosea supplementation on mental performance, physical capacity, and oxidative stress biomarkers in healthy men, J Sport Health Sci. 2018 54Jun J Mao, Qing S. Li, Irene Soeller, Sharon X Xie, and Jay D. Amsterdam, Rhodiola rosea therapy for major depressive disorder: a study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled trial, J Clin Trials. 2015

Reishi Mushroom

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Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is a medicinal mushroom that combats inflammations and oxidative stress. It is also useful for immune system modulation and as an antidepressant.55Hirokazu Matsuzaki, Yuta Shimizu,1 Naohiro Iwata, Shinya Kamiuchi, Fumiko Suzuki, Hiroshi Iizuka, Yasuhide Hibino, and Mari Okazaki, Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia in rats,BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 56Katarzyna Socala , Dorota Nieoczym , Krzysztof Grzywnowicz , Dawid Stefaniuk , Piotr Wlaz , Evaluation of Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant-, and Anxiolytic-like Effects of an Aqueous Extract from Cultured Mycelia of the Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) in Mice, Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015

Reishi is a potent modulator of blood glucose levels, which is an identified contributor to depressive symptoms.57Sissi Wachtel-Galor, John Yuen, John A. Buswell, and Iris F. F. Benzie., Chapter 9 Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi), CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011 Another action of reishi mushroom is the reversal of blocked synapses for better communication between neurons.58Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al., Neurotransmitters, Synapses, and Impulse Transmission, Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. 2000

Probiotics

Bacteria in the gut synthesize neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.59Rahul Mittal, Luca H. Debs, Amit P. Patel, Desiree Nguyen, Kunal Patel, Gregory O’Connor, M’hamed Grati, Jeenu Mittal, Denise Yan, Adrien A. Eshraghi, Sapna K. Deo, Sylvia Daunert, and Xue Zhong Liu, Neurotransmitters: The critical modulators regulating gut-brain axis, J Cell Physiol. 2018

Alteration in the brain-gut homeostasis affects the neurological, metabolic, hormonal, and immunological pathways resulting in chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to altered behavior, anxiety, and depression.60Luis G. Bermúdez-Humarán,Eva Salinas, Genaro G. Ortiz, Luis J. Ramirez-Jirano, J. Alejandro Morales, and Oscar K. Bitzer-Quintero, From Probiotics to Psychobiotics: Live Beneficial Bacteria Which Act on the Brain-Gut Axis, Nutrients. 2019 61Stephen M Collins , Michael Surette, Premysl Bercik, The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain, Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012

Biohacking Devices

Apollo Neuro Wearable

Apollo Neuro Wearable is an excellent biohacking device worn on your wrist or ankle to increase your heart rate variability (HRV). Higher HRV means lower stress, depression, and anxiety, and improved focus. 

This device emits low-frequency vibrations that enhance the parasympathetic nervous system that influences relaxation, improves mood, and lessens stress. Learn more about how Apollo Neuro Wearable can help you improve your mood. 

Light Therapy and Red Light Therapy

Light therapy is effective for treating depression because it is low-risk and non-invasive.62Stefan Perera, Rebecca Eisen, Meha Bhatt, Neera Bhatnagar, Russell de Souza, Lehana Thabane, and Zainab Samaan, Light therapy for non-seasonal depression: systematic review and meta-analysis, BJPsych Open. 2016 In fact, light therapy shows potential as a therapeutic option for patients unresponsive to drug therapy.

Aside from bright light, red light therapy using dim red light (25-50 lux) also helps improve depression and anxiety.63Leo Sher, Jeffery R. Matthews, Erick H. Turner, Teodor T. Postolache, Kimberly S. Katz, and Norman E. Rosenthal, Early response to light therapy partially predicts long-term antidepressant effects in patients with seasonal affective disorder,J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2001

Nutrisense CGM

Monitor blood sugar levels with the Nutrisense CGM (continuous glucose monitor). This device records your glucose data for 14 days to understand how your body reacts to different kinds of food. 

Cortisol levels affect insulin resistance in the same way that high insulin levels affect cortisol production.64Joshua J. Joseph and Sherita H. Golden, Cortisol dysregulation: the bidirectional link between stress, depression, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2018 65Aya Kamba, Makoto Daimon, Hiroshi Murakami, Hideyuki Otaka, Kota Matsuki, Eri Sato, Jutaro Tanabe, Shinobu Takayasu, Yuki Matsuhashi, Miyuki Yanagimachi, Ken Terui, Kazunori Kageyama, Itoyo Tokuda, Ippei Takahashi, and Shigeyuki Nakaji, Association between Higher Serum Cortisol Levels and Decreased Insulin Secretion in a General Population, PLoS One. 2016 This imbalance leads to blood sugar instability and, eventually, depressive symptoms usually felt by diabetics.66Sue Penckofer, Ph.D., R.N.,corresponding author Lauretta Quinn, Ph.D., R.N., C.D.E., Mary Byrn, Ph.D., R.N., Carol Ferrans, Ph.D., R.N., Michael Miller, Ph.D., and Poul Strange, Ph.D., M.D, Does Glycemic Variability Impact Mood and Quality of Life?, Diabetes Technol Ther. 2012

Omni PEMF

NeoRhythm from Omni PEMF is a device that uses neurostimulation to activate particular parts of the brain. The device emits frequencies that stimulate the brain to help you relax and get adequate sleep.

A decrease of alpha waves in the brain equates to mental disorders, mood changes, and anxiety.67Mahtab Roohi-Azizi, Leila Azimi, Soomaayeh Heysieattalab, and Meysam Aamidfar , Changes of the brain’s bioelectrical activity in cognition, consciousness, and some mental disorders, Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2017 Increasing the alpha brain waves with the help of the Omni PEMF device, on the other hand, shows a positive effect on people with mood disorders, especially Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).68Mohsen Dadashi, Behrooz Birashk, Farhad Taremian, Ali Asghar Asgarnejad, and Saeed Momtazi, Effects of Increase in Amplitude of Occipital Alpha & Theta Brain Waves on Global Functioning Level of Patients with GAD, Basic Clin Neurosci. 2015

CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid from hemp plants. Many studies demonstrate cannabidiol (CBD)’s antidepressant and anxiolytic effects.69Alexandre R de Mello Schier, Natalia P de Oliveira Ribeiro, Danielle S Coutinho, Sergio Machado, Oscar Arias-Carrión, Jose A Crippa, Antonio W Zuardi, Antonio E Nardi, Adriana C Silva, Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa, CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014

CBD also promotes sleep 70Scott Shannon, MD, Nicole Lewis, ND, Heather Lee, PA-C, and Shannon Hughes, PhD, Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series, Perm J. 2019 and the release of endorphins 71Johannes Fuss , Jörg Steinle , Laura Bindila , Matthias K Auer , Hartmut Kirchherr , Beat Lutz , Peter Gass, A runner’s high depends on cannabinoid receptors in mice, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 known as the happy hormones, to balance mood. Furthermore, evidence shows that CBD is effective in treating people with anxiety disorders.72Gioacchino Calapai, Carmen Mannucci, Ioanna Chinou, Luigi Cardia, Fabrizio Calapai, Emanuela Elisa Sorbara, Bernardo Firenzuoli, Valdo Ricca, Gian Franco Gensini, and Fabio Firenzuoli , Preclinical and Clinical Evidence Supporting Use of Cannabidiol in Psychiatry, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019

Tips to Achieve a Well-Balanced Mood

Eat a Healthy Diet 

Eating a healthy diet rich in whole foods helps improve your mood. A diet low in antioxidants may contribute to depression and other similar symptoms 73Qingyi Huang, Huan Liu, Katsuhiko Suzuki, Sihui Ma, and Chunhong Liu, Linking What We Eat to Our Mood: A Review of Diet, Dietary Antioxidants, and Depression, Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 .

Eating a diet high in protein is especially important since amino acids make neurotransmitters.74Richard J.Wurtman, Effects of Nutrients on Neurotransmitter Release, National Academies Press (US); 1994

Avoid foods high in gluten. A diet high in gluten can radically affect your mood and increase the chance of developing neuropsychiatric diseases.75Neurophysiology of the “Celiac Brain”: Disentangling Gut-Brain Connections, Neurophysiology of the “Celiac Brain”: Disentangling Gut-Brain Connections, Front Neurosci. 2017

Sugar is another culprit for depressive mood and other mood changes. Excessive sugar intake can also cause addiction, similar to opiates.76Nicole M. Avena, Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. Hoebel, Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake,Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2009

Withdrawal from sugar causes behavioral depression. Dopamine and serotonin levels increase after eating, and sudden withdrawal from sugar causes these neurotransmitters to plummet and results in depression and other withdrawal symptoms.77Nicole M. Avena, Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. Hoebel, Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake,Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2009 

Processed foods promote inflammation.78Rachel S Bergmans , Kristen M Malecki , The association of dietary inflammatory potential with depression and mental well-being among U.S. adults, Prev Med. 2017 It also encourages food addiction, similar to sugar.79Ashley N Gearhardt , Caroline Davis, Rachel Kuschner, Kelly D Brownell, The addiction potential of hyperpalatable foods, Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011 Consumption of processed foods and depressive symptoms are directly related.80Moufidath Adjibade , Chantal Julia , Benjamin Allès , Mathilde Touvier , Cédric Lemogne , Bernard Srour , Serge Hercberg , Pilar Galan , Karen E Assmann , Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot, Prospective association between ultra-processed food consumption and incident depressive symptoms in the French NutriNet-Santé cohort, BMC Med. 2019 81TA Popa and M Ladea, Nutrition and depression at the forefront of progress, J Med Life. 2012

Drink plain water instead of juices and soda. Sugary drinks negatively affect mood, 82Ke Ma,Li Guo,Aiping Xu,Shan Cui,Jin-Hui Wang, Molecular Mechanism for Stress-Induced Depression Assessed by Sequencing miRNA and mRNA in Medial Prefrontal Cortex, PLOS ONE. 2016 while drinking plain water lowers depressive symptoms and anxiety.83Fahimeh Haghighatdoost, Awat Feizi, Ahmad Esmaillzadeh, Nafiseh Rashidi-Pourfard, Ammar Hassanzadeh Keshteli, Hamid Roohafza, and Payman Adibi, Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study, World J Psychiatry. 2018

An increase in water intake also improves behavioral test scores and depressive symptoms. At the same time, adequate water intake enhances the feeling of calmness and contentment among subjects.84Nathalie Pross, Agnès Demazières, Nicolas Girard, Romain Barnouin, Déborah Metzger, Alexis Klein, Erica Perrier, and Isabelle Guelinckx, Effects of Changes in Water Intake on Mood of High and Low Drinkers, PLoS One. 2014

Avoid Environmental Toxins 

Studies conducted in the US and Denmark positively link environmental pollution and psychiatric disorders. Some studies blame ecological pollution as the most significant factor affecting major depression (55-66%).85Atif Khan,Oleguer Plana-Ripoll,Sussie Antonsen,Jørgen Brandt,Camilla Geels,Hannah Landecker,Patrick F. Sullivan,Carsten Bøcker Pedersen,Andrey Rzhetsky, Environmental pollution is associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders in the US and Denmark,PLOS Biology. 2019

For example, lead is a common environmental toxin. It increases the risk of major depressive disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorders.86Maryse F. Bouchard, PhD, MSc; David C. Bellinger, PhD, MSc; Jennifer Weuve, MPH, ScD; et al, Blood Lead Levels and Major Depressive Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder in US Young Adults, Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009

Microplastics are another problem. Preliminary findings show that ingesting microplastics from seafood causes physical and chemical toxicity.87Madeleine Smith, David C. Love, Chelsea M. Rochman, and Roni A. Neff, Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health, Curr Environ Health Rep. 2018

Evidence shows that microplastics alter the immune response and behavioral changes in fish.88Giacomo Limonta, Annalaura Mancia, Assja Benkhalqui, Cristiano Bertolucci, Luigi Abelli, Maria Cristina Fossi, and Cristina Panti, Microplastics induce transcriptional changes, immune response and behavioral alterations in adult zebrafish, Sci Rep. 2019 Since microplastics’ half-life ranges from months to centuries 89Martin Wagner, Magnus Engwall, and Henner Hollert, Editorial: (Micro)Plastics and the environment, Environ Sci Eur. 2014 , we are more exposed to this toxicant than we think. As we continue to eat fish polluted with microplastics, they are silently wreaking havoc in our systems.

Prescription drugs are yet another culprit for depression and depressive symptoms.90 Dima Mazen Qato, PharmD, MPH, PhD; Katharine Ozenberger, MS; Mark Olfson, MD, MPH , Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States, JAMA. 2018 Over-the-counter lifestyle drugs do not have enough evidence to vouch for its safety and effectiveness.91Simon N. Young, Lifestyle drugs, mood, behaviour and cognition, J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2003

Medications may address mental disorders and psychiatric cases, but depression is one of these drugs’ most common side effects.92Christopher M. Celano, MD, Oliver Freudenreich, MD, Carlos Fernandez-Robles, MD, Theodore A. Stern, MD, Mario A. Caro, MD, Jeff C. Huffman, MD, Depressogenic effects of medications: a review, Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2011

Practice Meditation, Breathing Exercises 

Several studies back the positive effects of meditation and breathing exercises to alleviate depression, stress, and anxiety.93Josefien J. F. Breedvelt, Yagmur Amanvermez, Mathias Harrer, Eirini Karyotaki, Simon Gilbody, Claudi L. H. Bockting, Pim Cuijpers, and David D. Ebert, The Effects of Meditation, Yoga, and Mindfulness on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in Tertiary Education Students: A Meta-Analysis, Front Psychiatry. 2019 94Stefan G. Hofmann, Alice T. Sawyer, Ashley A. Witt, and Diana Oh, The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review, J Consult Clin Psychol. 2010 Electroencephalographic (EEG) results show that alpha and theta activity increases during meditation.95Psychol Med. 2010, A systematic review of neurobiological and clinical features of mindfulness meditations, A Chiesa , A Serretti

Mindfulness meditation helps curb the effects of worrying thoughts 96Fabrice B. R. Parmentier, Mauro García-Toro, Javier García-Campayo, Aina M. Yañez, Pilar Andrés,and Margalida Gili, Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression, Front Psychol. 2019 and lowers cortisol levels 97Rose H Matousek , Patricia L Dobkin, Jens Pruessner, Cortisol as a marker for improvement in mindfulness-based stress reduction, Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010, resulting in better overall health.98Simon N. Young, PhD, Biologic effects of mindfulness meditation: growing insights into neurobiologic aspects of the prevention of depression, J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2011

Meditation also modulates brain mechanisms by balancing neurotransmitter activities for optimum mental and cognitive functioning.99Divya Krishnakumar, Michael R Hamblin, and Shanmugamurthy Lakshmanan, Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective, Anc Sci. 2016

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is a useful indicator of depression. Chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of depression, while sleep disturbance can also signal depression.100Hong Fang, Sheng Tu, Jifang Sheng,corresponding author and Anwen Shao, Depression in sleep disturbance: A review on a bidirectional relationship, mechanisms and treatment, J Cell Mol Med. 2019 101David Nutt, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci, Sue Wilson, PhD, and Louise Paterson, PhD, Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression, Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008

Monitoring sleep patterns is one way to determine changes and manage them properly. Biostrap Evo is a state-of-the-art sleep monitoring device. It effectively monitors the sleep stages, duration of sleep, latency, and awakenings, including involuntary ones. 

Biostrap Evo also collects data on your heart rate, oxygen saturation, HRV, and respiratory rate while also tracking snoring levels (available with a Sleep Lab subscription), and arm and leg movement during sleep. You can also sync your data to your smartphone by exporting it to third-party apps like Apple Health and Google Fit. 

Get Exercise 

Any form of exercise can help maintain a positive mood. Yoga, however, is most reputed to have a relaxing effect on depression and anxiety along with other mental issues. Like meditation, yoga also helps improve neurotransmitter functions, including dopamine, leading to a more relaxed mind.102Divya Krishnakumar, Michael R Hamblin, and Shanmugamurthy Lakshmanan, Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective, Anc Sci. 2016

Hatha yoga is a combination of yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditation. It is the most common form of yoga. While the evidence is limited, they all point to yoga’s effectiveness in treating major depressive disorder.103Ledetra Bridges, LMSW and Manoj Sharma, MBBS, MCHES, PhD, The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression, J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 104Sudha Prathikanti, Renee Rivera,2 Ashly Cochran, Jose Gabriel Tungol, Nima Fayazmanesh, and Eva Weinmann, Treating major depression with yoga: A prospective, randomized, controlled pilot trial,PLoS One. 2017

Nootropic Benefits of Yoga, yoga and nootropics

Resistance training effectively manages depression and its symptoms and improves brain function by triggering a dopamine response.105Tzu-Wei Lin and Yu-Min Kuo, Exercise Benefits Brain Function: The Monoamine Connection, Brain Sci. 2013 Adults diagnosed with clinical depression showed improvement in their symptoms after joining a fitness program.106Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D. and Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D., The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004 Endurance training also decreases C-reactive proteins that indicate inflammation and lowers anxiety symptoms.107Majid Khorvash, Ahmadreza Askari, Fatemeh Rafiemanzelat, Manijeh Botshekan, and Farzin Khorvash, An investigation on the effect of strength and endurance training on depression, anxiety, and C-reactive protein’s inflammatory biomarker changes, J Res Med Sci. 2012 Further, it improves the overall quality of life and sense of coherence.108Tiia Kekäläinen, Katja Kokko, Sarianna Sipilä, and Simon Walker, Effects of a 9-month resistance training intervention on quality of life, sense of coherence, and depressive symptoms in older adults: randomized controlled trial, Qual Life Res. 2018 109Brett R. Gordon, MSc, Cillian P. McDowell, BSc, Mats Hallgren, PhD, Jacob D. Meyer, PhD, Mark Lyons, PhD, and Matthew P. Herring, PhD, Association of Efficacy of Resistance Exercise Training With Depressive Symptoms, JAMA Psychiatry. 2018

Aerobic exercise also enhances the dopamine levels and stimulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).110Saskia Heijnen, Bernhard Hommel, Armin Kibele, and Lorenza S. Colzato, Neuromodulation of Aerobic Exercise—A Review, Front Psychol. 2015

Activation of the HPA axis lowers cortisol level 111Jennifer Keller, Ph.D., Rowena Gomez, Ph.D.,Gordon Williams, M.D., Anna Lembke, M.D., Laura Lazzeroni, Ph.D., Greer M. Murphy, Jr, M.D., Ph.D., and Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D, HPA Axis in Major Depression: Cortisol, Clinical Symptomatology, and Genetic Variation Predict Cognition, Mol Psychiatry. 2017 112Femina P. Varghese, B.A. and E. Sherwood Brown, Ph.D., M.D., The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Major Depressive Disorder: A Brief Primer for Primary Care Physicians, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2001 while BDNF provides antidepressant-like effects in the hippocampus.113Hui Yu and Zhe-yu Chen, The role of BDNF in depression on the basis of its location in the neural circuitry, Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2011 114Bun-Hee Lee and Yong-Ku Kim, The Roles of BDNF in the Pathophysiology of Major Depression and in Antidepressant Treatment, Psychiatry Investig. 2010

Maintain Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships help improve mood and mental health. A healthy family relationship is the foundation of a person’s sense of well-being in life.115Patricia A Thomas, PhD, Hui Liu, PhD, and Debra Umberson, PhD, Family Relationships and Well-Being, Innov Aging. 2017 Social support, especially from family, also helps mediate depressive symptoms, resulting in better recovery and increased optimism in depressed patients.116Petra Symister , Ronald Friend, The influence of social support and problematic support on optimism and depression in chronic illness: a prospective study evaluating self-esteem as a mediator, Health Psychol. 2003

Marital relationships, like family relationships, also help you to achieve a healthier mind. Married couples also are generally happier, cope with stress better, and have better self-esteem.117Patricia A Thomas, PhD, Hui Liu, PhD, and Debra Umberson, PhD, Family Relationships and Well-Being, Innov Aging. 2017

In adolescents involved in romantic relationships, the dynamics of a relationship (negative and positive) affect mental health, showing the importance of romantic relationships in adolescents and young adults’ well-being.118Mercedes Gómez-López, Carmen Viejo, and Rosario Ortega-Ruiz, Well-Being and Romantic Relationships: A Systematic Review in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood, Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019

These observations support findings on the dopaminergic activity of people in romantic relationships. This includes the optimization of mood-boosting hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin 119Kayo Takahashi, Kei Mizuno, Akihiro T. Sasaki, Yasuhiro Wada, Masaaki Tanaka, Akira Ishii, Kanako Tajima, Naohiro Tsuyuguchi, Kyosuke Watanabe, Semir Zeki, and Yasuyoshi Watanabe, Imaging the passionate stage of romantic love by dopamine dynamics, Front Hum Neurosci. 2015 Low levels of oxytocin and vasopressin lead to mental and psychotic disorders.120Leah H. Rubin, C. Sue Carter, Jeffrey R. Bishop, Hossein Pournajafi-Nazarloo, Lauren L. Drogos, S. Kristian Hill, Anthony C. Ruocco, Sarah K. Keedy, James L. Reilly, Matcheri S. Keshavan, Godfrey D. Pearlson, Carol A. Tamminga, Elliot S. Gershon, and John A. Sweeney , Reduced Levels of Vasopressin and Reduced Behavioral Modulation of Oxytocin in Psychotic Disorders, Schizophr Bull. 2014 121Tracey A. Baskerville and Alison J. Douglas, Dopamine and Oxytocin Interactions Underlying Behaviors: Potential Contributions to Behavioral Disorders,CNS Neurosci Ther. 2010

Wrapping Up

Understanding the underlying factors that affect mood disorders and the right interventions are essential to being happy. 

Combatting depression and other mental issues is possible with the right combination of nootropics, biohacking, diet, and lifestyle habits. 

About the author:

Erik Levi, FNTP

Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.

As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.

Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.

Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.

You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.

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